Evidence of an abundant autumn harvest is everywhere.

Golden fields with geometric patterns of straw decorate the horizon. Funghi are sprouting everywhere you look. Under trees, on sides of roads, nestling hidden under moss.

Bushes are dripping with wild berries, blackcurrants, brambles, rosehips. There are trees in gardens, parks and woods groaning with rosy ripe apples, plums and pears. All for the picking.

Take the kids out for a foray. They can have a ball picking wild fruits and scrabbling to spot mushrooms. Don’t let them pick them, many are poisonous. Unless you are sure of what you are doing never risk eating wild mushrooms. In most towns in Italy pharmacies have a registered mycologist on hand who will identify your mushroom harvest for you. They understand the dangers.

With the kids when you get home it’s time to bake! They will love making a crumble with the berries and apples they have foraged. It’s a great way to get them into the kitchen.


About 400g blackberries or brambles

About 400g juicy ripe plums

About 400g apples.

grated zest of an unwaxed lemon and half the juice

a teaspoon ground cinnamon

Some soft brown sugar and butter

For the crumble:

60g plain flour

90g rolled oats

40g crushed walnuts

75g soft brown sugar

150g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Some cold water

Pick over the berries, checking for any flies nestling inside.

Wash the plums, stone them and chop them into rough pieces.

Peel the apples, core them and dice them.

Pop everything into a shallow saucepan and sprinkle with some soft brown sugar and a splash of water.

Add the lemon zest, juice and cinnamon and cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the fruits start to soften.

Taste and add more sugar if needed.

Spread the fruit onto a shallow baking dish that has been rubbed with some butter.

Pre-heat the oven 200C/Gas mark 6

Make the crumble.

Sift the flour into a large bowl.

Add the rolled oats and the sugar.

Add the cubed butter and using the tips of your fingers rub the butter into the mixture to create a crumble.

Add the crushed nuts.

Sprinkle over the fruits in the baking dish.

Add a few blobs of butter on top and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Mary Contini is writer and director of Valvona & Crolla.

Join the Valvona & Crolla legendary Funghi Foray on Saturday 28th October with leading mycologist Neville Kilkenny. Leaving from Valvona & Crolla, 19 Elm row, Edinburgh EH7 4AA then travel by coach to our top-secret location.

For details see www.valvonacrolla.com